By David J. Marquardt of Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. posted in Family Law on Friday, November 10, 2017.
“We need to talk.” You don’t remember the rest, but you know that your spouse wants a divorce. At this point, you don’t know what to do, where to go, or who to talk to. All you know is that your life is about to change forever. The decisions you make in the near future are going to have lasting effects on you and your family. In light of the foregoing, what should you do now?
- 1) Determine the important issues. There are several major issues that may appear in a Virginia divorce case, such as the grounds (or reason) for the divorce, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support (alimony) and division of marital property. To guide your decisions, you need to determine which of these issues are relevant to your case, and which ones are the most important to you.
- 2) Consider grounds for divorce. Virginia is one of the few states remaining which recognizes fault grounds for divorce, including desertion, cruelty of treatment and adultery. Depending on your situation, and what led your spouse to seek a divorce, you may have a claim for a fault based divorce. Additionally, your spouse may be facing some guilt for ending the marriage. You can take advantage of both of these things to potentially obtain a favorable resolution to the various issues described above.
- 3) Create a plan for you and your children. Regardless of their age, children are affected by divorce. It is important at the outset to figure out what a good plan is for your children moving forward, and what type of arrangement is in their best interest. That way you can start creating a strategy to move toward that plan, while insulating your children as much as possible from the effects of divorce.
- 4) Get your finances in order. Divorce can be an expensive experience, but one in which you can limit the damage. From a practical perspective, you need to know what both you and your spouse earn, what your specific expenses are, and what liquid assets you have in the bank. From there, you can plan how you are going to move forward both in the immediate future and the long term.
- 5) Gather documents. Documentation is extraordinarily important in any divorce case. Just because you or your spouse say something is true, doesn’t mean that you can prove it to the court. If you have a document, however, that corroborates what you say, then that is much more persuasive. Therefore, you must gather all documents that could in any way be relevant to your case, from bank statements to report cards to mental health records.
- 6) Do NOT move out of the marital residence! Unless you genuinely fear for the safety of you or your children, do not move out of the marital residence. There are numerous reasons for this, but two of the more important ones are that it will just increase your total expenses and it will have a lasting effect on custody issues. Prior to moving out, talk to an attorney.
7) Speak with an attorney. This list will get you started, but it only provides for the first steps. You need to consult with an attorney about your specific situation, so you can determine where to go from here. Your strategy will depend on the facts of your particular case, and a qualified family law attorney can create a plan to help you reach your realistic goals.
If you would like to discuss your case with a Virginia divorce attorney, please contact Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C. at (703) 591-7475 to schedule a consultation.